The Land of Decoration: A Novel
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The Land of Decoration: A Novel

3.6 of 5 stars 3.60  ·  rating details  ·  2,084 ratings  ·  439 reviews
A mesmerizing debut about a young girl whose steadfast belief and imagination bring everything she once held dear into treacherous balanceIn Grace McCleen's harrowing, powerful debut, she introduces an unforgettable heroine in ten-year-old Judith McPherson, a young believer who sees the world with the clear Eyes of Faith. Persecuted at school for her beliefs and struggling...more
ebook, 320 pages
Published March 27th 2012 by Henry Holt and Co. (first published 2011)
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Nicola Mansfield
Reason for Reading: Very intriguing plot captured my interest.

This is a tough book to review. I loved parts of it and disliked other parts of it. Mainly, I adored the main character, 10yo Judith, in whose voice the narrative is written. She is naive and not always a reliable narrator but we are given events from her point of view as she sees them happen. I read the book very quickly over two days and had a hard time putting the book down. Parts of it were just lovely, other parts I heartily disa...more
Ian Young
The Land of Decoration is a first novel told in the voice of a young girl who has been brought up as a member of a religious sect; Grace McCleen is a young writer who was herself brought up in a similar environment. Of course, most authors draw deeply on personal life experiences as they write, not surprising since writing about events and circumstances you know is likely to be easier and more realistic. However, sometimes the parallels between events and a novel and the author’s own life seem p...more

This is a story of many parts encompassing the frequently fraught relationship between a father and his daughter set against a backdrop of manic religious fervour and the stress of strike action with a pinch of fantasy thrown in for good measure - a heady mix indeed!

Ten year old Judith McPherson leads a rather isolated life with her widowed father. Their routine revolves around their strong religious conviction that the End Times are approaching fast but such faith won't be a match for the bulli...more
Luanne Ollivier
Every year there seems to be a book that stays with me long after I've turned the last page. And when someone asks me for a good book recommendation, it's the first one that comes to mind. The Land of Decoration - a debut novel by Grace McCleen is one of those books.

Ten year old Judith McPherson lives in England with her father, her mother having passed away. She attends school, but is bullied and isolated, primarily because of the religious beliefs that she and her father follow.

And sometimes...more
The Land of Decoration, from the Book of Ezekiel, is a better world, the "promised land", the way 10-year old Judith McPherson wishes the world to be. It's a world Judith has created from the junk she finds, and the reader can see her creation, beginning with the opening paragraphs of this debut novel------

"IN THE BEGINNING there was an empty room, a little bit of space, a little bit of light, a little bit of time.

I said, I'm going to make fields, and I made them from place mats, carpet, brown...more
Now this is a strange one.

It begins wonderfully with a child invoking the story of creation of the world in seven days, recorded in the book of Genesis, as she creates her own model of the world.

I learned that her name was Judith. That she was ten years-old. That her mother was dead and that her father was bringing her up on his own. That he was a member of an Evangelical Christian sect that believed that the end of the world was nigh.

Judith was terribly isolated, and sadly I was not at all surp...more
Ten-year-old Judith McPherson (her given name hints at her fierce mythic power) has a secret: God speaks to her. Loudly. The rigid yet salvific God of the sect that rules the McPherson family's lives turns out to be considerably more unpredictable when chatting with young Judith, and Judith is learning that using "divine" power has consequences that no ten-year-old could predict.

Grace McCleen's debut novel is fascinating, disturbing, funny, troubling. Does God really talk to Judith, or have the...more
In the beginning I assumed that I was venturing into the life of a very young prophetess, which was quite engrossing nonetheless. Although I can't be certain whether the voice that spoke to her in her head either belonged to the author's idea of God or the Devil himself, or, and quite possibly, it was merely the main character's overactive imagination, given that the conversations were pretty lifelike and lacked all sorts of divinity. Still, with all of this dubiousness, I must admit that I like...more
Não acho que seja um livro tocante, no sentido de emocionar e comover o leitor. A narrativa é brilhante, fala de temas difíceis e actuais mas a autora optou por construir uma narrativa que incita à reflexão e ao pensamento do leitor, pois sendo um tema tão subjectivo e pessoal, as interpretações sobre a estória da pequena menina que fez nevar podem ser as mais variadas.

Opinião completa aqui - http://algodaodoceparaocerebro.blogsp...
The Land Of Decoration
Grace McCleen

My Quick Thoughts...

Judith lives with her her room she has this sort of replica world. She uses junk to create this decorated place. She calls it her Land Of Decoration.

My Thoughts After Reading This Book...

Oh my goodness! What a precious character 10 year old Judith is. She is sweet and funny and thoughtful and heartbreakingly achingly sad. She lives with her father and they follow a weird religion which causes them to not celebrate holidays and...more
This is an exceptional debut novel that I could not stop reading in spite of the deep anguish and the maternal protection that the main character invoked in me until I reached the wrenching conclusion.

The story is narrated by Judith McPherson, a ten year old that is intelligent and articulate far beyond her years. She lives with her widowed father John in a neglected home in a dying and decrepit town economically supported by the one local factory.

She and her father belong to a small, fundament...more
Joanne Sheppard
One of my favourite books of last year was Among Others by Jo Walton, in which a lonely teenage misfit struggles with her own (self-perceived, at least) ability to perform potentially harmful magic. Grace McCleen's The Land of Decoration has a similar premise in some respects. Narrator Judith, who is bullied and ostracised at school and whose widowed father has brought her up as a member of a fundamentalist Christian sect which appears in all but name to be the Jehovah's Witnesses, is desperate...more
I really wanted to LOVE this book. It has all the markings and reviews that lead me to believe this would be another ROOM; one of my favorite books, at least in the last five years. Ultimately, I just liked this book. It swayed back and forth between a three and a two, and given the ending (no spoiler here) it fell flat on two, almost crushing it with its weight.

Issues with writing and execution: the two main characters both lacked depth. Issues with general construction, and sequencing abound,...more
Alex Templeton
I didn’t anticipate that this novel, about a 10-year-old girl who believes that she has been given the power to perform miracles, would be so suspenseful, but I zoomed right through it. Judith McPherson belongs to what can probably best be described as an end-of-days cult of Christianity; those beliefs have made her a bullied pariah amongst her classmates. She spends her free time using bits and pieces others have cast off to make a model world in her room, that she calls the Land of Decoration...more
Reread September 3 - 4, 2012
I still very much hate it the second time around. Let's hear it for my patience and tolerance.

I was annoyed in the beginning and I've been annoyed along the way and I'm annoyed in the end.
I hate this book. If there's a question in the exams asking for a one-page essay of my opinion, I swear I will not spare anything and I'm not going to use euphemisms and I'm definitely not going to pretend to like it and praise it just to get points. I'm gonna thrash it. Take that,...more
Heather Noble
This book didn't work at all for me. It had no sense of time or place - could have been the seventies, could have been Wales or somewhere North with hills. The joyless religious sect stifling the lives of Judith and her father reminded me of the more than just a Baptist religions I came into contact with as a child but to me the plot, the setting and the characters were just contrived stereotypes in a story that failed to convince.
Well, that was...thought provoking! Though the story was often painful to read, it was equally engrossing and strangely resonant. I say "strangely" because I didn't have any idea what was going on and I still don't!
Serendipity Reviews
Originally posted on
This book really captured my attention when I heard about it. The idea of a child creating a world out of the things she finds on the ground and then using it to make miracles happen, is the ultimate wish of every child. Judith epitomises the awe and wonder of childhood.

You instantly feel sorry for Judith. She has a lot to deal with for a child. She absorbs the problems of the adults around her like a sponge. Her mother died giving birth to her,...more
I think L-C1.
Ten year old Judith is a Christian fundamentalist that sounds very much like a Jehovah's Witness to me. She believes that God is speaking to her and she can perform miracles but something about God doesn't ring true. He sounds more like the devil and when he encourages her to commit suicide to save her father's life, I decided it must be.

Once she decides she doesn't like "God" any more, she tells him to go and he does. If it is the devil she's been speaking to, that is not likely an...more
All her life 10-year-old Judith McPherson has been waiting for and expecting the world to end Armageddon style. It’s what she was brought up to believe, and as a child her faith is more powerful and unshakeable than that of even the most devoted adult, including her sad, humorless father. For Judith, a major perk to all the biblically described destruction is that she’ll see her mother again, and her father will be finally happy.

Largely isolated because of her family’s religion, Judith has spent...more
"The Land of Decoration" I read in one day about a week or so ago. I've been wondering ever since I read it, what I should say in my review in regards to it. The story has really stuck with me. I don't think I've ever wrote a review this long.

This book starts out with the 10 year old protagonist Judith McPhersen. Judith lives with her father in only what could be called a very lonely and dysfunctional house (to put it mildly) in what is described as a very poor & seedy part of town. Judith's...more
Самобичевание – это страшно.

На эту книгу я кинулась как коршун исключительно из-за обложки. Даже отрицать не буду, что красный цвет подействовал на меня как блестяшка на сорочье отродье, после чего я и выхватила этот экземпляр с библиотечной полки.
История не стала особым ревелейшеном, я и так подозревала, что детям религиозных фанатиков живется несладко. А еще я ждала, что книга в какой-то момент сделает финт ушами и выдаст мне, что девчушка на деле в коме и ей это все приснилось или же она прав...more
I picked this book out of the library by reading the inside cover, as I usually do. I was ready for a change, having just waded through "Three Cups of Tea". It seemed like it would be an interesting tale. It was!!

Having grown up in a home ruled by strict adherence to the Bible, I felt I would relate to Judith, and I loved how the author brought her to life for me, using her thoughts and her voice to show us what her world was like. What an imagination, how creative! Of course, my own childhood w...more
When I first started to read this book I thought it wasn't for me, but because of reading good reviews I persevered and I'm glad I did. My initial uncertainty didn't last long and before I knew it this book had me engrossed, and I couldn't put it down.

The book tells the story of ten year old Judith who lives with her father, her mother died in childbirth. Judith and her father belong to an unnamed religious group, that one suspects are Jehovah's witnesses. Judith creates a model of her world in...more
Il mio primo e-book.
E non mi è piaciuto nemmeno poi tanto. Me misera me tapina!
La voce narrante: una bimba di dieci anni.
Ed ecco la prima fonte di forte irritazione. Pensieri troppo articolati, troppo profondi, troppo misticheggianti. Fortissima la mano dell'autrice dietro. Il trucco riesce solo in parte, nei rari momenti in cui Judith sembra sul serio una decenne.
Poi, l'argomento: la bimba sente la voce di dio e si convince di saper fare i miracoli.
Forse i molti anni di educazione cattolica (...more
Ilenia Zodiaco

"Il posto dei miracoli" è la storia semplice di una bambina straordinaria. So cosa state pensando. Non ne possiamo più di superbambini inoppurtuni e saputelli che si comportano come trentenni misantropi, vantando una superiorità morale e spirituale (qualcuno ha detto "L'eleganza del riccio"?). I bambini nella fiction sono sempre un rischio. Ed è per questo che, per me, bisogna riconoscere alla McCleen un doppio merito: quello di aver scritto una storia bellissima e quello di aver creato una prot...more
Sam Sattler
Grace McCleen has written an extraordinary debut novel. The problem is that it is difficult to speak of The Land of Decoration without inadvertently spoiling its impact for future readers. I am, however, going to give it a shot.

The book’s central character is little Judith McPherson. Judith is a precocious ten-year-old whose life centers around her belief that she and her father are living in the end days. Because time is running out for the world, Judith and her father regularly knock on the do...more
The Loopy Librarian
Reading The Land of Decoration was a unique experience. It was imaginative and hopeful, philosophical and dark, fascinating and disturbing, and brilliant. It was not an easy read, but it was definitely compelling. Sometimes the experiences were very uncomfortable and upsetting, as when Judith cleans up after the boys deface the sidewalk in front of her house. But, Judith has this inner strength about her that makes you as the reader want to be strong on her behalf, even as you cringe and want to...more
Justin Green
Judith Mcpherson is a young girl being raised within a religious community. She lives with her father and never knew her mother as she died whilst giving birth to Judith.
A consequence of her upbringing is loneliness. She has strange beliefs and dresses/behaves in peculiar ways, and so she's not able to forge friendships. She spends much of her time constructing the Land of Decoration in her bedroom, using rubbish and discarded items to create her own little world.
Judith starts to have a dialog...more
Judith is a lonely 10 year old girl who lives with her father, a member of a strict Christian sect. She is very concerned about the end of the world coming, not because she is scared, but because she wants it to come more quickly.

When she's not reading the Bible, attending services or trying to convert non-believers, Judith distracts herself from her worries by making a miniature world in her bedroom, using bits of rubbish she find lying around. But when the snow she makes in her tiny world is r...more
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Grace McCleen was born in Wales and grew up in a fundamentalist religion where she did not have much contact with non-believers. Her family moved to Ireland when she was ten, where she was schooled at home. When Grace and her family moved back to Britain she went back to school and her English teacher suggested she apply to Oxford.

She studied English Literature at Oxford University and The Univer...more
More about Grace McCleen...
The Professor of Poetry The Offering

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“Miracles don't have to be big, and they can happen in the unlikeliest places. Sometimes they are so small people don't notice. Sometimes miracles are shy. They brush against your sleeve, they settle on your eyelashes. They wait for you to notice, then melt away. Lots of things start by being small. It's a good way to begin, because no one takes any notice of you. You're just a little thing beetling along, minding your own business. Then you grow.” 8 likes
“Once there was a man and a woman. When they met sparks flew, meteors collided, asteroids turned cartwheels and atoms split. He loved her from here to eternity, she loved him to the moon and back. They were two peas in a pod, heads and tails and noughts and crosses.” 6 likes
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